June 18, 2013
Sharapova not backing pay rise for first round losers
Maria Sharapova is not convinced it is a good idea to give first round losers at next year's Australian Open a huge pay increase as part of a US$4 million rise in overall prize money.
Tournament organizers announced earlier this month that the total prize money pool at the opening grand slam of 2013 had risen to US$30 million, making it the richest event in tennis.
While the exact breakdown of prize money is yet to be announced, it is expected that the biggest increases will be weighted towards the early rounds -- a move intended to counter concerns that lower-ranked players were struggling to sustain careers on the ATP and WTA Tours.
Roger Federer, president of the men's ATP Player Council, has expressed sympathy with the rank and file players who rarely reach the latter rounds of major tournaments where the big money is made but Sharapova is not convinced it is a good move.
"I don't know if I agree with a raise for a first-round loss," the Russian, who is playing at the WTA Championships in Istanbul this week, was quoted in The Times.
Sharapova and the other seven competitors in Istanbul met with officials of the four grand slams on Monday.
"I think the compensation as you win more rounds is right, but I'm not sure about the first rounds," added the French Open champion.
The rise in Australian Open prize money followed similar increases at Wimbledon and the US Open.
This year's Wimbledon championships saw first round losers in the men's and women's singles pocket a cheque for US$23,300 -- a 26 percent rise from 2011.